Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
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    Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Leading the Reading Vigil Against Hate Crime

    Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of organising (and obviously attending!) Reading’s Vigil Against Hate Crime which was held in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk.

    It was a great turn out and it began with a short speech from myself (Transcript below) followed by a candlelit walk, 2 minute silence and a balloon release. Balloons had to be released one by one to abide by Reading Borough Council Regulations (no string either!) but that added to what could only be described as a magical moment. As the balloons were released, they formed a spiral as they headed up into the sky and then formed a star. If that wasn’t magical enough, the precision timing of a huge flock of white birds flying above only added to the magic. It was a poignant moment that I don’t think you could create again if you tried.

    Here is the Transcript of my speech:

    Tonights vigil is the first in Reading and joins the many others taking place at this very moment in time.

    To remind you, tonight is about tackling the issue of hate together – taking a moment to stand with those who have lost loved ones and giving our support to those that need it. Our message is a simple one – it’s one of Hope, Remembrance and Positive Action.

    So why are we here? Because people are still being attacked on our streets and extremist propaganda encourages people like David Copeland to try and hurt so many in horrific attacks.

    Even this week, we have heard about the horrific murder of Stuart Walker and the hospitalisation of two men in Leicester.

    These vigils have been organised for the 17-24-30 campaign. Their name represents the days that the 3 London nail bombs were planted:

    17th April – Brixton Market

    24th April – Brick Lane

    30th April – The Admiral Duncan, Soho

    3 people were killed and more than 130 injured during Copelands 3 bomb attacks including a 23 month old baby with a nail in his head.

    Please follow me on a candlelit walk to remember those we have lost to hate crime, to put our differences to one side and work together in unity to give Reading a voice to say No to Hate Crime.

    Although a symbolic event, I see Reading’s vigil growing each year and perhaps next year we can organise a choir and some speakers to address the crowd. Sadly, only the LGBT Community came to the event including representatives from Reading Pride and SupportU. It was also great to see members of Reading’s Political Parties in attendance including Cllr Daisy Benson, Group Leader of the Reading Lib Dems, Cllr Tim Harris from Reading Conservatives and Richard Wood, LGBT Officer for Reading Labour. Everyone sharing a common cause. I had invited the Reading Council Racial Equality but I don’t think they were able to attend so hopefully next year they’ll be able to attend.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that did attend.

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    October 22nd, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, discrimination, event, gay, hate crime, homophobia, jamie wake, lgbt, local

    I am privileged to be coordinating this event:

    On Friday 28th October 2011, people in Reading are invited to gather at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk to say NO TO HATE CRIME. At 7.45pm, a candlelit walk will take place ending with a 2 minute silence at 8pm to coincide with other vigils taking place in the UK and abroad. This will be followed by a release of balloons to remember those who have been affected by Hate Crime.

    This year we are looking at Homophobia, Transphobia, Rasicsm and Disability Hate Crime and addressing the issue of bullying in our schools, workplaces and our communities.

    So what is it all about?

    It is about tackling the issue of hate crime together, taking a moment to stand with those who have lost their loved ones and giving our support to those who need it. Our message is Hope, Remembrance and Positive action.

    At the last two national vigils those who attended said that the event gave them a sense of community, that they felt that they were part of something and that is what we are trying to do. Help people connect with each other but also to ensure that those who have been attacked know that they are not alone. That we are there for them.

    It is also about inspiring people especially young people to get involved. Images from the Vigils have been circulated around the world and have been used in various projects. We want to encourage all people to do something positive.

    Why?

    Because people are still being randomly attacked on the streets of London and other places.

    Then there is the organised hate crime, the gay-free zone stickers that have gone up in various places. The recent attempts by EDL to recruit LGBT activists to their cause and organise a gay march through Tower Hamlets. The links that exist between extremist propaganda that helps create some of the tensions between our communities, and encourages people like David Copeland and Anders Behring Breivk to carry out their horrific attacks. We need to be aware of and deter those who seek to stir up these tensions for their own ends.

    Conflicting reports say that hate crime is rising again and there is this big debate over whether or not this is because some people are more confident reporting, or whether the problem is actually getting worse. Regardless of this debate, we believe more positive action is required.

    So what do you want people to do?

    We want people to be calmly vigilant, to be safe, to be aware of the dangers and to make sure that they flag things up when they see things that cause concern. This could be directly to the police using the new non-emergency number 101, or via the various other organisations that exist to help like Stop Hate Uk 0800-138-1625.

    We also want people to be aware that these services need our backing, especially in the current financial climate. There is so much we can do to help signpost and support them and at the same time strengthen our own communities.

    And we want to encourage people to talk, to connect with each other and build more positive relationships so we can accept or set aside our differences and work together to resolve some of the issues that lead to tensions between us.

    How can people find out more?

    People can take a look at our website www.17-24-30.com for more information. This year we have set up two WordPress sites 172430notohatecrime and hatecrimevigils and it is also possible to follow us on Facebook 17-24-30 and Twitter #HateCrimeVigils.

      Note to Editors

    The Hate Vigil in Reading is being coordinated by community campaigner, Jamie Wake, for 17-24-30.

    17-24-30 represents the dates that the three London nail bombs were planted, 17th April – Brixton Market, Brixton, 24th April – Brick Lane and the 30th April – the Admiral Duncan, Soho.

    In April 1999 David Copeland set out to attack the Black, Asian and Gay communities of Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho hoping that it would create a climate of fear which would eventually lead to the election of the BNP. Over the course of three weeks he planted three nail bombs which killed three people and injured many more.

    Luckily he was caught and his plan failed, but his acts of hatred remind us that there will always be those out there who seek to attack and harm us so we need to remain vigilant and work together to protect and strengthen our communities.

    17-24-30 believes that it is important to bring people together.

    The gatherings are important to those of us who have been affected by the attacks, they bring our local communities together, and provide us, our families and friends – with the support and opportunity to gather and remember our loved ones. They also enable us to engage with old friends and newcomers as well, drawing comfort from each other and being able to exchange our experiences, thoughts and feelings.

    They also provide an opportunity for our communities to raise awareness and reflect upon what has happened, so we can educate the next generation and ensure that we reduce the chances of this happening again.

    17-24-30 believes that it is important to remember those we’ve lost, and those still with us.

    Three people were killed and more than 130 injured during Copeland’s three bomb attacks, however the impact of these horrific events rippled across our communities affecting many people who lived, worked or socialised in these areas, those who were connected to those caught up in the attacks, and those who saw the aftermath of these events in the media.

    At least 48 people were injured when the first device exploded in the crowded Brixton Market. Among those taken to hospital was a 23-month-old baby with a nail in his head.

    A week later, 13 people were injured when the second bomb exploded in Brick Lane.

    The most serious attack took place in Soho. A pipe bomb containing 1,500 nails exploded in the crowded Admiral Duncan pub. Three friends Andrea Dykes 27, John Light 32 and Nick Moore, 31 died in the blast and more than 70 were injured.

    Please help us publicise this event so Reading can add its voice to the campaign and say NO TO HATE CRIME.

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    Yesterday I learnt that Lorna McArdle, chair of the Reading Pride charity, is to present a petition to Reading Borough Council that reads:

    We the undersigned believe that the residents of Reading would significantly benefit from a LGBT support centre in the town centre open at accessible times to provide health, relationship, employment and legal advice and offer counselling and other services.

    We call on Reading Borough Council to acknowledge this need and offer genuine assistance to establish and maintain an LGBT centre within Reading.

    There is currently a paper petition and an e-petition which can be found at http://www.supportu.net/survey/index.php?sid=15698.

    A motion is also tabled by Cllr Tim Harris that reads as follows:

    SUPPORT CENTRE FOR LGBT COMMUNITY

    Councillor Harris to move:

    “This council believes that the residents of Reading would significantly benefit from a support centre in the town centre open at accessible times to provide specialist services such as health, relationship, employment and legal advice and to offer counselling and other services to the LGBT community.

    This Council undertakes to provide genuine assistance with accommodation and £10k in start up costs for “Support U” to establish such a centre which once instigated should be self-financing and run by local LGBT community members.

    Both the petition and motion are to be presented at a council meeting on Tuesday 18th October 2011.

    I’m pledging my support for this centre for a number of reasons. I make no secret of my sexuality or the way it has been used against me in the past. It was the recent homophobia that I encountered that encouraged me to launch the OK 2B GAY campaign in Reading. The SupportU centre will provide a central base for Reading LGBT groups and organisations and most have received little or no funding from Reading Borough Council who have historically allocated higher funding to organisations that represent religious or racial groups rather than those discriminated against because of sexuality. Some organisations have even had funding decisions reversed by the new administration and there is speculation that this happened after a particular organisation was seen supporting a political group canvassing in the Redlands Ward of Reading!

    That aside, Reading Borough Council does not do very much for the LGBT community. There are committees that represent Ethnic Minorities and religious groups and yet there are none established for the LGBT Community. I have raised this with Reading Borough Council but have never received a reply as to why.

    SupportU aims to provide the following services:

    Family help groups
    Drop in days and nights for the family unit to discuss issues arising from children and/or grandchildren being in same sex relationships.

    Gay parents advice, people needing advice regarding access to their children due to their sexuality and conflicts within the family unit.

    Transvestite Groups and Transsexual Groups
    A relaxed meeting place for those seeking advice for changing sex or cross-dressing. This will be run by people already going through the process or considering it with guests from the NHS or private hospitals. With the inclusion of a hairdresser on the premises it will not just give TS and TV’s a safe place to feel welcome to get their hair done, it would also alleviate the fear of discrimination and intimidation.

    20-25 group
    A social club for the over 19′s so they can meet others in a safe place. This will also be in association with local LGBT venues.

    Educational Services
    Classes in the arts, literature writing, dance, theatre and other recreational activities.

    3rd Party reporting
    Support U have had confirmation that Thames Valley Police would use the facilities as a 3rd party reporting centre.

    They also wish to house the following services within the centre:

    BeYou – Helpline – They would be looking at supporting and improving the service as they have seen a 40% increase of calls in the past year.

    BOLGaF – Berkshire Older Lesbian, Gay Forum
    A social group for the older generation to meet up and support

    Reading Pride – An organisation that provides an annual festival to celebrate acceptance

    Broken Rainbow – Domestic Violence help for same sex couples

    Kenric – A social group for lesbians

    Gay Berkshire – This group is made of a network of governing and voluntary organisations regarding Housing issues, Police advice, NHS advice and support, and voluntary help organisations.

    NHS – advice and support

    TVPS – An informal HIV advice provider for the Berkshire area.

    LGBT Disability Network – A social network for the disabled that are LGBT

    Albert Kennedy Trust – working with 16-25 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people who are homeless or live in a hostile environment

    Plus:
    Support U would provide a referral service to other local businesses to assist the community with enquiries relating to services that the charity doesn’t provide directly. Some of the examples of these are:

    Council – Benefits and social housing advice.
    Solicitors and Lawyers – Offering a business opportunity for solicitors to advise on Civil Partnerships, Wills, and Gay Fathers or Mothers Advice, people needing access to their children due to sexuality.
    Job Agencies – Offering advice on CV writing and how to approach looking for a job.
    TVPS – HIV testing and advice
    Unions – offering union representation and advice
    Doctors
    IVF Clinics
    Fostering Services
    Faith provisions

    As you can see, these are very much needed services that are needed by the LGBT community that also compliments services that are being cut and I hope you will show your support by signing the petition above and coming to the Civic Centre in Reading on Tuesday.

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    On Wednesday evening, I was asked to accompany a resident to a meeting with developer, ST James, regarding residents concerns over the ever increasing service charges imposed by management agent, Hallmark. It is quite apparent that residents do not feel they are getting value for money and feel that they are being overcharge as well as being charged for services that they do not receive. The resident that had arranged this meeting was frustrated as she had contacted her elected councillor for help and she felt she was palmed off without any support. I was only too happy to help when other options failed her. The resident also invited a member of the Kennet Island Residents Association to the meeting as they hadn’t met with St James regarding the service charges and to avoid duplication over this issue.

    The meeting did seem proactive and I’ll update residents when agreed actions have been carried out. I will be meeting regularly to pursue the issues surrounding service charges plus any other issues that arise. During this meeting, the issues surrounding broken street lights on Kennet island have been raised. The lack of lighting in areas such as Gweal Avenue have created pockets of darkness by bike sheds and alley ways and seem to be hotspots for burglary. I anticipate ST James resolving this very quickly.

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    June 23rd, 2011jamiewakerdggay, it gets better, jamie wake, lgbt, lib dems, stonewall

    Well visitors to my blog will know that I have been involved in fighting discrimination against LGBT people in Reading since I moved here.  I was involved with the Reading Pride Charity from its infancy and I continue to support their work.  I also support the work of Stonewall who recently have been filming well known LGBT people as well as politicians to lend their voice to the “It Gets Better…Today” campaign. 

    The High Profile Internet campaign was started in America by Dan Savage in response to the rise in suicides amongst LGBT Teenagers and just a quick youtube search will show you how many people internationally have recorded their piece to camera.  I was moved by some of the messages to young gay and lesbian teenagers so I recorded my own piece in the hope that we can reassure young LGBT people that it gets better today.

    I have also set up a Facebook group and am currently approaching Group Leaders of Political Parties and infuencial people in Reading to record their own messages of support for young LGBT people in Reading. 

    Here is my youtube video:

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    Well, bloggers all over Reading have given their opinions and analysis of the Reading Elections and put forward theories as to why some parties did well and others not so well.  Some say that many people in Reading were using their vote to protest against the coalition nationally whilst other talk of dirty campaigns.  Unless we’re knocking on voters doors to ask, I guess we’ll never know the real reasons why and I’m sure that we’d get a multitude of answers too.

    What is clear from looking at the turnout, is that the public are still disenchanted with local (and national) politics.  In Whitley for example, the average turnout has been around 25%.  I was pleased to see an increase this year to 30% but I’m still keen to see why 70% of Whitley residents chose not to vote?  That will be my pet project over the coming months.

    I don’t want to over analyse the results here in Reading.  For those who didn’t know, I came 4th with 140 votes with the Labour Candidate, Kelly Edwards, winning with over 56% of the vote.  I wish her well and I hope that she puts the needs of Whitley before her own political career.  I also hope she considers moving into the Whitley ward.  That way she’ll be able to understand Whitley a lot more. 

    A lot of residents here have approached me to tell me that they voted for me and one told me that regardless of the result, I am still a winner because I’d been making differences locally and then went out and tried to make a difference by standing for council. I will still continue to make a difference here in Whitley and time will tell whether I get selected by my local party to represent them in next years election.

    My views have not changed.  I still believe that the Lib Dems are the best political party that can make a difference both locally and nationally.  I still agree with Nick and I still say Yes!  I also believe that there’s too much time wasted on blaming people and being negative rather than getting on with the job in hand.  I’m proud to be a Lib Dem.

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    April 30th, 2011jamiewakerdgcommunity, honesty, jamie wake, local, local candidate, reading, whitley

    Having just been out delivering leaflets about my standing in the election in my ward (Whitley), I’m continually amazed by the positive reactions I’ve been getting from residents. 

    I was under no illusion as to how difficult the whole process of standing would be and the attention it would draw but I believe it will all be worth it!  Having people wish me luck on the street has motivated me at every step and I believe residents care because I’m local.

    One of the things that many people have found it difficult to grasp is that I have a different approach to politics and quite frankly, I don’t blame them!  I have vowed to never waste time criticising other parties as that’s valuable time that can be used in solving our problems.  Of course, there will be times when I may have to defend myself and only recently I have been attacked for having been an actor!  Even today a resident has informed me that there is also a leaflet circulating in Whitley about me but I am yet to see it.  Of course, if it is found to be of an unacceptable nature, it will be handed over to the appropriate people.

    Whilst delivering by Swallowfield Drive, I got chatting to a few people who were fixing a car.  These guys apparently never vote because all politicians are the same.  The opinion that they had is that all they do is argue between themselves and forget about the people at the bottom.  I could see where they were coming from as I felt the same until a few years ago.  Handing them my leaflet, I assured them that I was different and shared the same issues that they did.  Whilst they told me that they wouldn’t promise to vote, they wished me luck and I left them to tinker with their vehicle.

    Another resident told a similar story and thanked me for standing but was bemused that I wouldn’t be critical of other parties! She asked me about the national debt and I said to her the same answer I say to everyone!  There is a huge debt and we’re way past playing the blame game when we can all work together to solve the problem. Laughing she agreed with me that I was different and I left her to get on with her day. 

    I believe that I can make a difference in Whitley – and It’s reassuring when residents tell me that they believe I can too.  Even the Kennet Island Management Company, Hallmark, wished me luck in their newsletter last week which bowled me over!  We”re in the final few days now where you have the opportunity to make that difference in Whitley so when you look at the names of the candidates standing on Thursday’s elections, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Which candidate actually lives in Whitley?
    • Which candidate is actually going to spend their time representing their community rather than being critical of other people?
    • Which candidate wants to deliver a difference to all members of the Whitley Community?

    I’m proud to be standing in Whitley and I’m proud to be the answer to each of those three questions.  It’s our Whitley – don’t lose your voice – use your vote!